Melbourne Test – Boxing Day: Clarke hands back the momentum


Unable to sleep in anticipation of two Boxing Day tests I awoke at 3-30 and watched the World Series of Poker until cricket time rolled around.

The first surprising news of the day was that the 2nd test between Sth Africa and India would be Jacques Kallis’ last. A huge surprise with an Australian tour just one month away.

The second surprise was that after winning his fourth successive toss Michael Clarke elected to insert the English. Why go away from something that had worked in the first three tests?

Sure the pitch had a tinge of green but enough to bowl first? Shania Watson’s lovechild Rulebook Ashwood reckoned it was to practise batting second before South Africa. Whatever the reason, in my mind it was a mistake. It was like handing back the momentum built in the first three tests.

England made two enforced changes Panesar and Bairstow in for Prior and Swann. Still no sign of the 7 footers Tremlett and Rankin who were apparently brought on tour to exploit the bouncy Australian wickets. In the first ten overs there was little sign of movement and England progressed easily to 0 for 30. Cook was the aggressor mixing cut shots and drives while Carberry was more circumspect. Harris had bowled well as always with a few play and misses and a dropped chance at third slip by a sprawling Smith. Johnson and Siddle for a change provided little threat. Nathan Lyon was on in the first 45 minutes which was the first sign of Clarke admitting he had made a mistake.

Tubby Taylor would never have bowled first and all the signs were that Clarke had given England some much needed life.
Cook then played a very loose shot and was caught at first slip off Siddle for 27. Carberry and Root then saw England through to 1 for 71 at lunch: advantage England.

After lunch England crawled and it was the aforementioned Shania Watson who clean bowled Carberry shouldering arms. Carberry was one good score away from a good tour but with starts in every innings there is still a question mark there. Root inevitably then fell wafting outside off stump to Harris for a scratchy 24

Pietersen and Bell was set to be the defining partnership of the day. Pietersen was struggling to hit the ball of the square again and when Harris lured him into a false hook shot it seemed all over. However sub Coulter -Nile whilst taking the catch easily misjudged his proximity to the boundary and stepped over gifting Pietersen life. Bell also fell caught behind to Harris who bowled superbly again taking 2 for 32 of 20 miserly overs. Surely he must be put on ice after this test for the Proteas.

Johnson picked up Stokes and Bairstow late in the day to finish with 2 for 59 off 20. Siddle finished with 1 wicket Lyon with none and Shania Watson with another injury. Pieterson survived another chance to remain not out on 67 at the close.

At 6 for 226 the first hour tomorrow will be pivotal to the result of this match. Bring it on.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A strange day like the , Shania Watson line and yep don’t reckon we would have sent them in if series hadn’t been decided a touch arrogant ? The way , Coulter Nile stepped over the line did it remind any , Pembroke guy of a certain opening batsman from this season ? Thanks Raj and great radio show on coast fm last night

  2. Agreed Mal. Strange decision by Clarke to send them in. Maybe decided he was obliged to give them a chance after winning his fourth consecutive toss.

  3. Mickey Randall says

    Raj- like you I could not see the advantage in sending them in. Although not as disastrous the previous time this occured; Punter’s still baffling call in 2OO5, we know how that concluded! Nice job.

  4. Agree Mickey England don’s have the batsman good enough to take advantage of the error like they did in 2005. Mcgrath stepping on a cricket ball certainly didn’t help.

  5. Definitely and odd call from Clarkie. England getting their higfhest score of the series probably says it was a wrong one albeit 255 is not huge.
    Rulebook, I don’t think poor Matty Raymond is ever gonna live that catch at Payneham down.
    Good summary Raj

  6. Raj with watching 7 hrs of World Series Poker, you will be a force to be reckoned with come Burn and Turn PL 2014. Good luck on your maisden break through win.

    Ohh and good article.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Strange decision of Kallis to retire halfway through their Summer with the big Australian series coming up. Preserving his (outstanding) average? Good work Raj. Is your radio show on Coast Fm available online or on digital? Checked out the Pembroke CC website, some good work from you on there too Raj. But couldn’t find “the Terrorist” link??!!

  8. Peter Flynn says

    I reckon Clarke didn’t want to bat.

    A stupid decision.

    The MCG Test pitch is consistently the worst pitch.

  9. Thanks Luke yes our show is on Thursday nights 6-8 pm. You can get streaming on Callers welcome.

  10. One simple reason for insertion: mental disintegration. Clarke is effectively saying to the English team, “we think you are rubbish, so we will put you in so we can hit the cans earlier on day 3 or 4.” A great C grade captain, Paul Bradshaw used this tactic many times to ensure his lads were downing cans by tea time in their one day clashes. What is the point of racking up over 1000 runs in a match when the opposition won’t even make 400?

    Clarke is rubbing Cook’s nose in it. Beautiful.

  11. Love it Duncs. The job got done on Day four. Anyone for Golf?

  12. nothing better than an early taste of victory, plus I could only stop the boys from drinking for a short time

Leave a Comment